Ex-Matilda Lisa De Vanna slams ‘slap in the face’ A-League All Stars announcement

Jamie Dunkin
The Nightly
The A-League All Stars are set to face Caitlin Foord’s Arsenal
The A-League All Stars are set to face Caitlin Foord’s Arsenal Credit: Alex Burstow/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

One of Australia’s greatest ever footballers Lisa De Vanna has publicly slammed the decision by the A-Leagues to appoint Joe Montemurro as the manager of the A-League Women All Stars.

With the A-League Women All Stars set to play Arsenal Women — featuring Caitlin Foord, Steph Catley, and Kyra Cooney-Cross — in a high-profile exhibition match at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium on May 24, much discussion had been around who would take charge of the side in a match intended to promote the local game.

On Friday, the former Arsenal Women manager Joe Montemurro was announced as the man to lead the side, instead of a current manager in the league. The Australian Professional Leagues, who run the A-Leagues, confirmed Western United manager Kat Smith and Central Coast Mariners’ Emily Husband were locked in as his assistants.

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The decision has not been received well by fans nor players, with Matildas great De Vanna branding the decision a “slap in the face” to current coaches in the A-League Women competition. The former Australian captain said it was an “insult” to coaches who had “put in the effort” and remained “loyal” to the women’s game locally.

Fans also questioned why two current female coaches (the only two in the competition) were left to be just assistants rather than taking on the management mantle. Other critics asked why the match, which is intended to showcase local Australian talent, wouldn’t be showcasing a local coach to a wider audience.

Montemurro had previously managed both Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City in the A-League Women over a three-year stint, guiding a star-studded City side to back-to-back championships in 2015/16 and 2016/17. The Australian coach then went on to manage Arsenal, leading them through a highly successful period between 2017 and 2021, winning two trophies for the North London club.

The 54 year-old was most recently the boss of Juventus Women, before the two parted ways earlier this season.

The A-League Women All-Stars will play Arsenal after the Men’s All-Stars side line up against Newcastle as part of the Global Football Week in the Victorian capital.

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